Female Arousal, Awareness and Erections
Addressing an outdated idea that was brought up in another post, claiming that studies prove women are not aware of their own arousal.
Older studies attempted to determine female arousal by measuring blood flow to the vagina. This is not an accurate method, it only measures lubrication. The women in these studies also responded vaginally to ANY kind of sexual input, including sex videos of alternative orientations or even animals. If these studies were to be believed, us women can get aroused at the drop of a hat simply by walking through a barnyard in springtime, we just don’t know it.
In case you weren’t aware, women get erections, too. When women actually become aroused (not just lubricated) the clitoral tissue engorges with blood, just like penile tissue does in a male. It’s just that for women, most of the erection happens internally. Blood flow to the clitoris is what indicates female arousal.
Paul Byerly in wrote in 2018 about newer testing that shows a correlation between women’s perceived and actual arousal, with links for further study:
Thank goodness science is finally getting its head on straight! I know when I have an erection. I know when I am aroused. I don’t always know when I am lubricating or not, but I sure as heck know that I am not aroused by monkey sex – even if they can prove it alters blood flow to my vagina.
“Responsive desire” (the kind meaning that female desire happens after arousal) doesn’t necessarily mean that a woman is aroused but doesn’t know it; it simply means that some women aren’t interested in sex until they are getting an erection, but they won’t get an erection until they start having sexual activity. Knowing that can help a woman make the choice to engage in sex even when she doesn’t feel in the mood.
Yep. True arousal for my wife isn’t just about “wetness,” since she produces various amounts of that throughout the month. But it’s also her erection, which is fairly obvious in her, and a lot of wetness, and whether her vaginal opening is relaxed enough to receive me. All of which of very important. Thankfully, we’re both very aware of this, and she communicates clearly (verbally and otherwise).
And I second the whole “morning erection doesn’t mean arousal” thing, which is a common misconception. My wife has tried to have sex with me to “take advantage” of my erection in the early morning. That didn’t go well (even though it was a fantasy of mine) because I wasn’t aroused at the time, and I needed to urinate, which keeps me from true arousal and orgasm.
Thank you for this. That fallacy that lubrication = arousal has caused trouble in more than one quarter. A woman can be well lubricated even during rape, and that’s been used in legal situations to indicate consent. Conversely, it took me some time to convince my husband that I can be aroused without being lubricated. I think he was taking it as an affront to his desirability. In reality for me, it has less to do with desire and more to do with dehydration.
There’s no shame in keeping a bottle of “hydration” nearby, and not being afraid to use it!
Interesting and insightful. Likewise for us guys (fellas weigh-in) just because we wake-up in the morning with a woody it doesn’t mean we’re horny. Many times in my life I’ve awoken in the morning with a rock-hard erection brought on by a full bladder (ain’t no urine passing through the urethra in that state). My only interest is to jump out of bed, get the the bathroom, and relax (can take some time) in order to drain my bladder.
@Scott: “using the above definition of arousal sends that shattering back to the ground. And one question I have then–if my “all day” attempts at romancing her and 3-hr-long conversations get her wet, but not erect, then what does that mean?”
Don’t forget that there is more to lovemaking than physiology. Those are the things that make a woman open to being aroused by her man. There are certain ways my DH can touch me that will bring about arousal (erect clitoral tissue) that could be duplicated by a man I just met, but that doesn’t mean I have any interest in being aroused for him. Similarly, if DH has been kind of a weenie for a couple days, then tries those go-to moves, they won’t be effective. The emotions and relationship are the foundation for the erectile tissue arousal.
@Duchess: “…The emotions and relationship are the foundation for the erectile tissue arousal.”
That sentence, plus all before it really helps get me a better idea of what’s going on. You spelled it out perfectly in a language I can understand. Learning about responsive desire was a huge eye opener for both my wife and I. I’ve been able to learn things (and she has flat out told me) that help build that foundation, not that I was a “weenie” before. I had thought that was the start of getting the responsive desire kicking in (“sex starts in the kitchen”), but I’ve still struggled to get her going sexually. This (plus ShadowSpirit’s response that I’m still digesting) has shown me that I’ll still need to add a second step beyond the priming of the pump to really get success. My wife literally says she “wants to want to”, but we haven’t figured out this second step (that I sort of didn’t know existed).
A big part of the problem is that all my old moves fail now. She trained me how to touch her softly and gently, starting with non-sexual areas. I can’t do that now that she’s touched out from the kids (and I take every kid responsibility upon myself that’s possible…but I work during the day and can’t be two places at once). She routinely pulls away from everyday, normal kisses, too repulsed to do it now. Gentle touches are the same, meaning I have to find a way to get her aroused with no touch and then go straight for the sexual stuff (my wife even says this; it’s just where she’s at now).
I really like your post, but I will play devil’s advocate here, especially since I believe that an answer to one of my posts may be what initiated this thread.
“‘Responsive desire’ (the kind meaning that female desire happens after arousal) doesn’t necessarily mean that a woman is aroused but doesn’t know it; it simply means that some women aren’t interested in sex until they are getting an erection, but they won’t get an erection until they start having sexual activity. Knowing that can help a woman make the choice to engage in sex even when she doesn’t feel in the mood.”
I like this statement from you, but the implications for my marriage (and my question a few days ago) are bleak. Almost nothing I do (or at least that she lets me do) gets my wife aroused, at least during the last 6 yr. My wife has a smaller-than-average clit, so telling when she is aroused by visual methods isn’t very easy, but if I lump it in with her initiating, then I can say that, in order and for the last 6 yr, the things that physically arouse my wife are:
- Vibrators (to be fair, she hasn’t used one without simultaneous PIV, so this should be labeled vibrators+PIV)
- Erotica (possibly tied/even with TTC)
- Oral sex (presumably only with me, maybe a 50% success rate when she permits it…oh, and I combine G-spot stimulation with it)
- PIV (presumably only with me, maybe a 15% success rate)
- Me (when I am not inside her or have my mouth on her vulva, she might have been aroused once that I can remember)
Wives, invert that list to be reflective of genders (so flesh light instead of vibrator, porn instead of erotica) and see how you would feel. Do you see why many men feel unloved, unattractive, and like sperm banks (while TTC)? There were times in the last half decade that I viewed myself as a nanny/bank/servant/sperm bank/CFO/life-insurance policy, but not as a husband. It’s not rational, but it’s how I felt emotionally.
Learning about and accepting my wife’s responsive desire helped tremendously with this (especially explaining #6), but using the above definition of arousal sends that shattering back to the ground. And one question I have then–if my “all day” attempts at romancing her and 3-hr-long conversations get her wet, but not erect, then what does that mean? I’m familiar with arousal non-concordance and all that, but it still leaves me confused.